Thursday, March 27, 2008

Historically Inaccurate Movies

For the obvious reason of being a historian, I am a nitpicker when it comes to historical movies. I get it from my dad, who was a history buff. It is so bad that no one will see a historically based movie with me any more - but I am always the first consulted if something needs clarification/verification! Needless to say, I was excited to come across 10 Most Historically Inaccurate Movies.

I love the fact that Braveheart makes the list, as I always cite it for the historical fallacies outlined in the article. Do not get me wrong, it is one of my favorites for its story and overall entertainment value. I also find it interesting that two other Mel Gibson movies – Apocalypto and The Patriot – make the list. However, there are two - 300 and 2001: A Space Odyssey - that I feel do not deserve the distinction. Stylized for a comic book audience based on another historically flawed movie (The 300 Spartans) that inspired him as a kid, Frank Miller stated that his graphic novel upon which the movie 300 is based is not accurate. It is meant to be entertaining, not history. Likewise, to include 2001 would be to include every futuristic movie that has not panned out; it is meant to be science fiction, not science fact.

I understand that movies are for entertainment, constantly chastising those who use movies as their sole reference source. As Maximus asks in Gladiator, another to make the list, "Are you not entertained?" Indeed, I am. Granted, good or bad, movies are a mass means for exposing people to a subject. Nevertheless, I often find that the true history is just as exciting, if not more so, than Hollywood’s version – and sometimes it is also truly stranger than the fiction. I just want people to be more critically aware to which version they are being exposed by taking the time to learn more about it. 

©2008 Steve Sagarra

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